What every web programmer should know about SEO, and why? (Revisited 2016)

This blog was written in 2011, But we found it would be still interesting to revise and post again.  

SEO for programmers

What programmers should know about SEO?

This blog was written in 2011, But we found it would be still interesting to revise and post again.  

What web programmers should know about SEO?

Doing off-page optimization  is like fixing the accessories to your car, but the on-page stuff is like the engine which has to be inbuilt. However  beautiful can be a car’s accessories  but it is the engine which makes it running and worth. So the quality of the website and the way it has been optimized for search engines will only make your off-page optimization activities pay. Not just the META tags, the design, usage of scripts and images and the list go on.

Winning high keyword positions in Google  not just involves solid relevant link building and a gem of a content, but it also involves several factors to be maintained on the website and in fact the effectiveness of the off-page performance clearly depends on the stability of website and its optimized pages.

Normally SEO factors in a website will be disrupted when changes in the site are done without the knowledge of the SEO team member. There are certain factors which can disrupt all the long term SEO efforts that have been made, in a second and nowadays with search engines getting smarter and smarter, big business websites can come down to dust within a short span with its ranking. SEO is a team work. Here programmers play an important role. This is why last year we wrote another blog “SEO for designers and developers“.

Now let us look at few simple checklists that every programmer should know to work coherently with the SEO efforts.

1.URL – SEO’s Holy Grail:

One of the major search engine optimization benchmarks is to increase the domain popularity of a  URL and maintaining the stability of the URL is as important as taking care of your eye. The domain age is still a very important factor for the success of SEO.
There are many examples for URL tampering which are normally done by programmers unintentionally. Most of the time it happens while adding CAPTCHA images to HTML sites. Without consulting the SEO team member the site is changed to .PHP. And here, if the changes made are cached before search engines actually cache it, then no harm is done. But if it has been cached already then all the SEO efforts made will go in vein.

Programmers should have an unwritten rule that when they have to work on sites which are currently undergoing SEO and if they are asked to change the URL structure then the SEO professional should be contacted before doing anything.

2. Understand the importance of META tags

When we build websites for making money, SEO, undoubtedly becomes one of the effective ways of marketing and making it. Next to stable URL, the META tags are very vital aspects for SEO success, Especially the META description and the Title. META tags are not just words; it is a kind of label about your website to both search engines and visitors. There are many instances when programmers do  not consider META tags as an important piece of HTML and removing or making changes to it without consulting the SEO professional becomes a sick process. But programmers do not realize however beautiful the design is, it is the META tags that bring business to the website online.

3. No more “Sick” feeling with SEO, Please.

Like you programmers, SEO guys learn a lot. If Programming is math and science, SEO is art. You do not learn the art, but there are simple things which you learn, make a tremendous difference with your client’s business or help your own website.

What to learn to become an SEO friendly web programmer?

Last year Moz’s Danny Dover had come up with this updated SEO cheat sheet called The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet 2.0. I strongly recommend you to go through that. Here is the PDF version of Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet 2.0.

In this cheat sheet, I recommend the following to get more attention, while the others are mostly core SEO stuff.

1. Hyperlinks. As we discussed above do not spoil the URLs. You let them live and let them be SEO friendly.

2. Know the right HTTP status code and use them, especially the 404 and 301 redirections.

3. URL Canonicalization is important. Check what Google’s Matt Cutts says about Canonicalization of URL.

4. Generate sitemap syntax in right formal – SEO team member will require your support in building valid XML sitemap.

5. Know Google Authorship – If you are into  business registered with Google Authorship and add the right code. Mostly your SEO team should be able to handle this, but you should be aware of what the code is and where it has to go.

As a learner, you could learn this too. Winning SEO needs programmers support, you can be a part of this.